First Look: Ingres, Goya, Freud and Other Masters of Drawing in The Collection of Howard & Saretta Barnet

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“The greatest masters of Western European art, from Leonardo to Picasso, began every work of art that they made with drawings,” says Gregory Rubinstein, Head of Sotheby's Old Master Drawings department. This universality is why art lovers and collectors who are fascinated by the process of making art are fascinated by drawings. Two such collectors were Howard and Saretta Barnet. Unique in its combination of small overall size, great chronological span and exceptionally high quality, the Barnet Collection was assembled over a period of nearly 40 years and reflects a powerful, consistent eye for quality and beauty. Click ahead to enter the worlds of Ingres, Goya, Degas, Freud and other masters.

The Line of Beauty: Drawings from the Collection of Howard and Saretta Barnet
31 January | New York

First Look: Ingres, Goya, Freud and Other Masters of Drawing in The Collection of Howard & Saretta Barnet

  • Claude Gellée, Called Claude Lorrain, The Valley of the Aniene, Near Tivoli, with the Ruins of the Aqua Anio Novus Aqueduct. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
    It is through serene and imposing drawings such as this that Claude Lorrain cemented his position as the ultimate recorder of the landscape, ruins and atmosphere of the Roman Campagna. Although artists had been depicting similar subjects since the 16th century, it was only when Claude took to the wider countryside surrounding the Eternal City in the 1620s that these pastoral locations began to be widely appreciated as subjects – a fashion that endured more or less unabated until the late 19th century. Claude’s influence was immense he effectively defined the European vision of Italy for centuries to come. This atmospheric work is one of the most significant drawings by the artist to remain in private hands, and is particularly fascinating in that it depicts an identifiable location, with the ruins of the Aqua Anio Novus Aqueduct still surviving to this day. This drawing has not been seen in public since it was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York some 40 years ago.  

  • Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, No Llenas Tanto la Cesta (Don't Fill the Basket So Full). $1,000,000–1,500,000.
    Goya’s penetrating vision of humanity and intense visual imagination distinguishes him as one of the first truly modern artists. Throughout his life, he expressed his most private thoughts and feelings in his drawings – in particular, the works from various stages of his career that he gathered into eight remarkable “Private Albums.” This drawing originates from the Black Border Album, named for the distinctive lines that frame each composition in this group. Here the artist has portrayed an elderly woman, hunched over a basket of food, some of which has fallen on the ground. Goya has added his own proverbial inscription to the lower centre of the drawing: No Ilenas tanto la cesta (“Don’t fill the basket so full”). The combination of media used by Goya remain in particularly exceptional condition, making this museum-quality drawing one of the most important works by the artist to appear on the open market in recent years.

  • Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, Called Parmigianino, Recto: Shepherds for an Adoration; Verso: Two Putti Among Foliage. Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    Parmigianino was a prodigiously talented artist whose drawings have always been keenly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs. The present work, a double sided drawing, is no exception. Depicting two separate studies of “Shepherds for an Adoration” on the recto and “Two putti among foliage” on the verso, the drawing also contains a charming musical score on the recto, which perhaps explains why it once belonged in the collection of Nicolas Lanière, who in 1618 was appointed as Master of the Musick to Prince Charles, who would later become King Charles I of England.

  • Jean Antoine Watteau, A Scene from the Commedia Dell'Arte: A Girl Resisting the Advances of a Comedian and an Actress Executing a Step. Estimate $500,000–700,000.
    This exquisite Watteau likely depicts a scene from the Commedia dell’arte, an early form of theatre that originated in 15th-century Italy. Its popularity spread throughout Europe, and by the 18th century it was of the utmost fashion in France. The two figures on the left, drawn predominantly in a vibrant red chalk, suggests a timeless scene of a beautiful woman spurning the advances of an overenthusiastic suitor. The equally beautiful woman on the right side of the sheet does not seem to directly relate to the aforementioned narrative, but appears to be an actress or dancer performing a step. The two groups of figures form a delightfully balanced “mis en page,” in which Watteau so effectively captures both the elegance and expressiveness of the figures.

  • Samuel Palmer, R.W.S, Landscape with a Church, a Boat and Sheep. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    Samuel Palmer was one of the most important and influential artists of the Romantic era in England and is perhaps best known for the visionary style of his early “Shoreham period,” when he was living in the Kent village of Shoreham. The present drawing is a wonderful example from this period and remains as intensely original and compelling to 21st-century eyes as it would have been to 19th-century viewers. Drawn in Palmer’s characteristic combination of brown ink and wash with scratching out, this landscape depicts a scene of rural bliss, with two shepherds and their flock bathed in dappled light, while a boatman drifts past an idyllic village church.

  • Théodore Géricault, Recto: A Cart Horse; Verso: A Preliminary Study for a Cart Horse. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Although Géricault is perhaps best known today for his masterpiece The Raft of the Medusa, 1818–19, during his lifetime he was most widely acclaimed for his exquisite portrayals of equestrian subjects. The present work, executed during Géricault’s highly productive English period, depicts the lumbering might of a Clydesdale, a hardy breed of horse used predominantly in agriculture and for heavy hauling due to its immense strength. With characteristic mastery and keen observational skill, Géricault has captured the monumentality of this powerful creature and conveying to the viewer a sense of admiration for a noble animal.

  • Lucian Freud, Portrait of Balthus. Estimate $70,000¬–90,000.
    A virtuosic rendering of bold line and delicate chiaroscuro, Lucian 
Freud’s Portrait of Balthus illustrates the legendary British portraitist’s extraordinary powers of analysis in both form and character. Depicting Balthus, the French modern painter whose early investigation of figurative
 expressionism served as a significant influence on Freud’s own 
iconic output, this drawing confidently captures the essence of the
 sitter. The brooding gaze and distinctive, shadowy features evoke Balthus’s reputation as a reclusive and impenetrable figure.  

  • Adolph von Menzel, Head of an Old Man, His Eyes Raised. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    A careful documenter of people he encountered from all walks of life, Adolph von Menzel was one of the most prolific draughtsmen active in Germany in the second half of the 19th century. The present drawing, executed in Menzel’s characteristic combination of black chalk and stumping was created at the height of the artist’s maturity. His wealth of experience is evident in the confidence and fluidity of line in this highly accomplished sheet.

  • Jean Antoine Watteau, Young Man Turned Three Quarters to the Right, His Left Hand Folded in Front of Him, Wearing a High Cap. Estimate $300,000–400,000.
    Jean-Antoine Watteau was one of the most brilliant and original artists of the 18th century and in his relatively short life managed to have a hugely significant impact on the development of Rococo art in France and beyond. Drawn with all Watteau’s characteristic energy and wit, this captivating study of a young man wearing epitomises the artist’s mastery of flickering light, which not only pleases the eye but animates his figures of every type. Dating to circa 1718, the drawing of the young man is a preparatory study for Watteau’s painting Les Bergers, now in the collection of Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin.

  • Edgar Degas, Deux jockeys. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Degas’s two engrossing passions, horseracing and ballet, provided him with a rich and exciting social life and the artistic inspiration for the greatest part of his œuvre. As a member of the prestigious Jockey Club, Degas was a habitué of the racecourses from Deauville and Longchamps, where he could closely study the beauty of thoroughbred horses. Images of racing were a central part of his career and his pastels, such as Deux jockeys, are among his most celebrated works.

  • Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Holy Family. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    This drawing is part of the famous and much-admired series of about 75 variations by the 18th-century Venetian artist Giambattista Tiepolo on the theme of the Holy Family. Ranked among the highpoints of the artist's draughtsmanship, the drawings were originally bound in a single album. The Holy Family album was later owned by the sculptor Antonio Canova, and was unbound after the sale of the collection of Edward Cheney, in 1885. Tiepolo’s extraordinary skill in taking advantage of the white surface of the paper to suggest areas of light, together with his subtle use of the pen and abundant wash, have created in these drawings some of the most poetic images on the theme of the Holy Family.

  • Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Les Souris et le Chat-Huant. Estimate $18,000–22,000.
    Between 1729 and 1734, while he was employed at the Beauvais factory preparing designs for a series of tapestries, Jean-Baptiste Oudry also executed 275 drawings illustrating the Fables of La Fontaine, one of the most celebrated publications in the history of French literature. All of the drawings from this series are executed in a combination of brush and gray wash and black ink, and most distinctively are all drawn on a beautiful blue paper. Because the present work remained bound in an album until 1973 it is in particularly good condition and charmingly still retains its vivid blue mount, as intended by the artist.

  • Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Portrait of Alexis-René Le Go. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    Drawn by the renowned French Neoclassical artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, this portrait reflects the artist’s sublime ability to render the most lifelike depictions with a great economy of medium. Ingres’s portrait drawings are among his most coveted works, and this example, which portrays Alexis-René Le Go, has a fascinating provenance. Le Go served as secretary of the prestigious French Academy in Rome, where Ingres himself was director, and the two were close friends. Ingres dedicated the portrait, in which an elegantly attired Le Go stands in the loggia on the garden side of the Villa Medici, to “son ami.”

  • François Boucher, The Charms of Country Life. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    Best known for his idyllic and extravagant decorative allegories and pastoral scenes, François Boucher was one of the preeminent French painters and draughtsmen working in the 18th-century’s fashionable Rococo style. The present work is a “première pensée” or “first thought,” for Boucher’s exquisite painting Les Charmes de la Vie Champetre, now in the Louvre. Portraying a young man trying to gain the affections of a female companion and is set in an idyllic Arcadian landscape, the composition reflects many of the main attributes of the final painting. The work’s size and excellent condition, as well as its relationship to the Louvre painting, add to its desirability.

  • François Boucher, Study of a Man Raising a Hammer. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    Vigorous, robust and physically powerful, this red chalk study highlights the major role that studies played in Boucher’s career and how these studies were translated into commissions. The figure depicted is a sketch for one of the blacksmiths in Boucher’s 1747 painting Venus in Vulcan’s Forge, now housed in the Louvre.

  • Salvator Rosa, Study of the River God Tiber. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    Typical of Rosa’s quick and vibrant use of pen, ink and wash, this fine sheet depicts the river god Tiber and seems to have been made in preparation for the artist’s painting The Dream of Aeneas, 1660–65, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Dream of Aeneas was a subject that Rosa clearly admired, as he also created an etching of the subject, the preparatory drawing for which is in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

  • Francesco Guardi, The 'Sottoportico' of the Doge's Palace, Venice. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Francesco Guardi was, alongside Canaletto, the master of 18th-century Venetian vedute (views), depicting the magnificence of the canals and architecture of Venice as well as capricci, which were fantasies, in which real architectural elements would be adapted and combined to create an intriguing or desirable scene. The present drawing, executed in Guardi’s highly characteristic combination of pen and brown ink and wash over black chalk, is in exceptionally fine condition. The drawing depicts the sottoportico of the splendid Palazzo Ducale in Venice, for centuries the palace in which the Doges (leaders) of Venice resided.


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